Authors: Graham Hurley
Graham Hurley is on a roll
convincing and disturbing
A thriller with a lethal plot, sharply drawn characters and a nail-biting ending
Puts him firmly in the premier league of British thriller writers.
One of the best thrillers I
ve read in years
YORKSHIRE EVENING PRESS
Probably one of the best thrillers you
ll ever read
LANCASHIRE EVENING TELEGRAPH
s all done with a high degree of plausibility and hard-edged topicality and comes recommended
GLASGOW EVENING TIMES
Brilliant stuff of the kind that keeps you awake at night
NORTH EASTERN GAZETTE
thriller full of compassion and excitement
the pace never flags.
A gem of a story
unique and gripping.
PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH
Passionate and powerful
one hell of a compelling read
DARLINGTON NORTHERN ECHO
Compelling and thought-provoking
YORKSHIRE EVENING POST
book written from the heart, a book that deserves to be read all the more because of it
EXETER EXPRESS & ECHO
Also by Graham Hurley
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
THUNDER IN THE BLOOD
THE PERFECT SOLDIER
Copyright © Graham Hurley 1998
The right of Graham Hurley to be identified as the author
of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998.
First published in Great Britain in 1998 by
An imprint of Orion Books Ltd
Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin
A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
ISBN o 75281 304 8 (hardcover)
o 75281 305 6 (trade paperback)
Typeset at The Spartan Press Ltd,
Printed in Great Britain by
Clays Ltd, St Ives
For Jane and Simon
Pilote de Guerre
Antoine de Saint Exup
s half past four in the morning, still dark. I
ve been awake all night,
worried sick about Billie. Billie is my baby daughter. She
s nearly three
months old. This afternoon, in a local park, someone took her away.
d been in the cafe for maybe a second or two longer than usual. I
was buying myself a sticky bun and a can of Diet Coke. There were lots
of people and I had to push my way through to get back outside. The
pram was still there, hard up against the window. But Billie had gone.
In the flat upstairs, I can hear Gilbert on patrol, six steps across, nine
steps up and down. He
s been walking the circuit for hours on end,
caged in his own back room, as helpless and as desperate as I am. I
broke the news this afternoon. It was obvious he didn
neither can I.
thought that finding Billie gone was the worst moment
of my life but every hour that passes makes the feeling worse. What
kind of monster takes a baby like that? What kind of mother lets it
I think guilt must wall you off from the world because it takes me
longer than usual to pick up the sound of movement outside my
bedroom window. I first put the footsteps down to party-goers from
the squat across the back. Then, very distinctly, I hear a squeaking
hinge. It belongs to the kitchen door that leads to the garden. There
whispered conversation, two people at least, then silence again. Even
s footsteps overhead have stopped.
Given what I
ve been through these last few hours - indeed, these
last few months – I
suppose I should be hardened to excitements like
these but sadly I
m not. I pull the sheet up to my chin. I shut my eyes. I
say a prayer. Dear God, please let all this stop.
Seconds later, my bedroom door is opening. I search for the light
beside my bed but the torch has already found me. I hear a voice, male,
m shielding my eyes. I expect the worst. It doesn
Get dressed. Quick as you can, love.
At last I
ve found the light switch. My visitor is wearing a black
jump suit. His hands are gloved. Across the buttoned pocket on his
chest, a velcroed strip reads DC Flowers. I should ask him how he
forced the door, what right he
s got to be here, but this list of sensible
questions is the last thing on my mind.
s about Billie, I say. It
s about my baby. Have they found her? Has
he come with news? It
s obvious he hasn
t a clue what I
about. He tells me again to get dressed, to keep calm. The street is
He nods, backing towards the door.
ve got two minutes
re out of here.
s freezing. At the far end of the street, a double-decker
bus is filling with other residents. I join them on board. Faces I
recognise: families, babies, students, drop-outs, old folk. We
half-asleep, wall-eyed, bewildered. The place is swarming with police.
Everywhere you look there are men and women murmuring into
radios. They looked watchful, keyed up. Of Gilbert, I realise, there
absolutely no sign.
A couple of minutes later, after a head count, they drive us away.
The local library has obviously been opened specially. There are
mattresses on the floor and a pile of neatly folded blankets. A woman
behind the issuing counter is dispensing mugs of cocoa from a big urn.